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Ongoing Conversation With My Fundie Dad


Former Follier
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I've been struggling with the decision of posting this on Ex-C or not. In the end, I respect all of you and your advice and find this to be a great resource for information and moral support.

 

The conversation begins with my dad emailing me the following:

 

MY DAD, 6/18/2007, 8:52 a.m. ... The attachment is a reply written by Daniel Birky to a blog by a local guy mocking the recently-opened Creation Museum in Kentucky. As you may or may not know, Daniel is currently a law student at the U of I.

 

ME, 6/18/2007, 9:06 a.m. I didn't find Daniel's rebuttal particularly cogent or insightful. If you happen to forward his email to me, I will try to get answers from him since my attempts have failed elsewhere.

 

MY DAD, 6/18/2007, 9:19 a.m. I'll try to get Daniel's email address for you from his parents.

 

ME, 6/18/2007, 9:30 a.m. Here is a very few of the creation questions I could pose to him (among others).

 

1. Which creation account do you hold to be the correct creation account (there are two)?

2. Why did God "notice" that Adam was lonely and then return to make Eve from one of Adam's spare ribs (badum-CHH!) if he is omniscient?

3. Were dinosaurs included in the creation?

4. How did dinosaurs cohabit with humans?

5. How did two of each kind of animal bridge the Bering Sea or Australia to make it to the ark?

6. When God created the stars and the firmament did He give the starlight a running start (the start we currently see in the night sky are millions of light-years away)?

7. Did Noah really include two of each kind of dinosaur on the ark?

8. If so, how did he manage to feed them enough to keep them from ravaging him and his family?

9. How am I to believe that the entire human race came from two individuals?

10. Am I to believe that God condones incest?

11. What is the intelligent design theory behind the appendix and wisdom teeth, both things the body could do well without and serve no purpose but to aid in the furthering of disease?

12. How did the population increase substantially enough between the time of creation and the time of the flood to incite God to smite the entire world with His wrath (I thought God was omni-benevolent)?

13. How again was the Earth repopulated after the flood from Noah and his wife and their sons and wives (again, with the incest)?

14. How does enough water fall from the sky to cover the highest mountain peak?

15. Is there really enough moisture in our environment for that to happen (if both ice caps melted, it would raise the world's sea table approximately 250 to 300 feet)?

16. How did the already saturated ground reabsorb all of that rainwater?

 

See what I'm getting at? No thinking person can believe these stories any more than any other myth or fable.

 

MY DAD, 6/18/2007, 12:05 p.m. You can find answers to many of these questions here:

 

http://www.answersingenesis.org/home/area/qa.asp

 

But I'll still try to get you Daniel's email address.

 

ME, 6/18/2007, 12:05 p.m. answersingenesis-dot-com is a joke.

 

MY DAD, 6/18/2007, 12:26 p.m. I thought you wanted to find out what "thinking people" had to say about your questions. The writers at AIG are very highly educated & repected people in their respective fields. Are you afraid of ideas that don't match your own preconceptions? What is the point of asking questions if your mind is already made up, and all you want to do is belittle those who hold opposing views? If the answers are AIG are so ridiculous, you should have little trouble demolishing their arguments.

 

ME, 6/18/2007, 12:41 p.m. I have little trouble demolishing their arguments. That's why it's a joke. I've reviewed their site and they use 90% of their bandwidth charting out all the many, many impossibilities in the Bible and proposed by skeptics, they use another 8% or so to provide humorous anecdotes and then rush in a brief and shaky explanation (or excuse) in the final 2%. Hardly conclusive. As a matter of fact, when I went to the FAQ page, only two or three of my questions were presented and, as I stated before, the majority of their response was devoted to building straw men and torching them.

 

I would still like to talk to you about OT law, though. You and mom follow many of the OT laws. Why? Why would you see fit to follow any of the OT laws if they were the "Old Covenant" with God? Even if you disregard Jesus' statement that he "came not to replace the law but to fulfill it", you still have problems with the lot of laws you don't follow. For example, followers are not to "spill their seed". Do you have intercourse for the sole purpose of procreating? No, you've had a vasectomy. But you don't work on the Sundays. But you do wear clothing made from blended fabrics but you don't give burnt sacrifice. Do you see what I'm getting at? You can't cherry-pick which laws you want to follow.

 

I was hoping through everything that you would actually take it on yourself to read the same passages that I've been reading and try to face some of these "uncomfortable" contradictions on your own. In doing so, you would be able to follow I Peter 3:15 instead of shrugging me off onto someone else.

 

MY DAD, 6/18/2007, 1:04 p.m. Nathan, it's hard to even take you seriously. You are dismissing the arguments of men and women who are true scientists, and who are considered experts in their fields. I would not even do that to Richard Dawkins! Although I disagree with his conclusions, I still respect him as a scientist and a scholar. You really ought to get more than a handful of community college credits under your belt before you dismiss the intellectual arguments of career scientists. As far as answering some obscure questions about OT law, I really don't see that it serves a purpose. Your mind is already made up. You have demonstrated your unwillingness to consider any other viewpoints than your own. And I really don't want to be the target of any further disrespect and derision.

 

ME, 6/18/2007, 1:30 p.m. "In their fields." Exactly. Meaning that all of their studies came from institutions of higher learning that already fit into their world-view... they wouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable in their beliefs because they wouldn't be challenged. In their studies, they were presented with only the material that supported their already formed beliefs. To put it bluntly, they are forcibly close-minded. To take it further, those "true scientists" who are "respected in their fields" who happen to have earned doctorates create peer-reviewed articles which are reviewed by their peers... peers who hold the exact same world-views and beliefs.

 

I'm actually listening to a debate between Dr. Michael Shermer and Kent Hovind. I don't know that I can take a man seriously who can't correctly pronounce the word meme (pronounced [mēm] not [mē-mē]).

 

As for disrespect, how do you justify your critical remark about my lack of a formal college education? In arguing against the positions these people hold, I am using something that everyone has the ability to use... logic and rational thought. Those things can't be taught in school but they can be turned off by enough Sunday morning services.

 

You don't see how coming to terms with the logical fallacies that you adhere to and practice would serve any purpose? It might help you to actually appreciate the life you've got instead of clinging to a hope of something better. I admit, the prospect of dying can be scary but once it is accepted life becomes more beautiful than ever imagined.

 

I am still compiling my lists. Perhaps if you have some spare time you can actually sit down and come to terms with all the things that you blindly believe even though they fly in the face of natural law, free will and rational thought processes.

 

No reply from my dad.

 

ME, 6/19/2007, 1:53 p.m. Well, it appears that you are trying to let our conversation die. I am not willing to let that happen. For the same reasons that you try to witness to me, I'm trying to confront you with things that you don't want to see; we're each trying to open the other's eyes.

 

Even if you want to cut the entire Old Testament out of the Bible because of flaws in OT prophecy, narrative and law (which you don't), I can pose numerous contradictions and flaws in the New Testament, the very groundwork for your faith, even in the birth, burial and resurrection stories.

 

I will give you a few examples:

 

1. Was Joseph the father of Jesus?

2. What did the soldiers give Jesus to drink?

3. What did the sign over Jesus on the cross say?

4. What were the last words of Jesus?

5. When did Jesus ascend into heaven?

 

(I gave citations, chapter and verse in KJV but removed them to conserve space in this already long thread.)

 

That should be enough to keep you busy for awhile. Hopefully, you will see the harm in harboring beliefs that you cannot reconcile or defend.

 

All of these examples were found at the Skeptic's Annotated Bible website at http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/ which is the King James Version which is annotated with contradictions, absurdities, injustices and more. Just click on the "Contradictions" link on the homepage and you will be presented with a cumulative list of all contradictions found in the KJV, the earliest existing translation of what is considered to be the canon (which raises a good question: if half of the OT is no longer applicable, why is it still regarded as being part of God's Word?)

 

MY DAD, 6/19/2007, 8:34 p.m. I would be more than willing to have a conversation with you if that was what you truly wanted to have. But you don't want to have a conversation. You want to lecture me, and I won't allow that. I have been a Christian for much longer than you have been alive, and I know very well what (and Who) I believe in. All your alleged Biblical errors and inconsistencies are rubbish, and easily refuted by any person familiar with the Scriptures. You should be able to discern those errors yourself with the education you've had and with the preaching you've been exposed to. But I guess you have a strong compelling interest in disproving Scripture. Because if the Bible means nothing, then you won't have to answer to God for the way you've chosen to live your life. I can't do anything more for you than pray for you, and you can count on me and Mom continuing to do that. I hope God gets your attention. And sometimes when God gets your attention it can be very costly and very painful; not only to you, but to those you hold dear. But you may as well stop badgering me to debate you about a bunch of nonsensical challenges, because I won't do it.

 

ME, 6/20/2007, 8:57 a.m. If you'll recall, you prompted this discussion by sending me Daniel Birky's blog reply to a man who ridiculed the Creation Museum in Kentucky. What purpose did you hope that would serve? In a following email, you mentioned that the AIG crew are well-educated (in private schools that subscribe to their already founded worldviews) and well-respected to which I replied that their museum and their website is hogwash. You replied with the following: "If the answers are AIG are so ridiculous, you should have little trouble demolishing their arguments." Well, Dad, I have plenty of material that aids in my refutation of their arguments but when it all comes down to it, the belief in biogenesis or a-biogenesis is something that must be sorted through personally with all relevant material at hand. I use data, theory and scientific method to come to my conclusion while you use a handful of verses found in the first book of the OT. But which version of the creation story do you believe to be true? There are two differing accounts.

 

Now, in using your quote above I will point out that you claim to have information that will easily refute the rubbish that I call Biblical error and contradiction. If you can advocate debunking AIG then why can't you take the same task and show me how the Bible is perfect. That Book is what you base your life from and instead of obeying the command of God as presented in I Peter 3:15 (But sanctify the Lord God in you hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:) you want to claim that I am only being argumentative and that I use my "so-called refutations" as a way of justifying my sinful life or some such nonsense. Let me respond to that with two points.

 

First, I don't cling to your worldview so your thoughts about my life and the way in which I lead it are of no consequence to me nor are the "thoughts" that are ascribed to God.

 

Second, you can't use the logic that unbelievers or nonbelievers who "think" are at any fault. Am I to assume that God only wants children, gullibles and idiots in heaven and cares nothing for those who scrutinize for certainty? I don't think that you have any idea the amount of cognitive dissonance I have struggled with since I was an early teen.

 

What did I do with those conflicting thoughts about the Bible, God, an afterlife, morality and sin? I buried myself in the Bible. Do you realize that the Bible itself is the best tool for deconversion? That is, if you read it truly wanting to learn what its pages hold. The difficulty is, you will read the Bible with a notion already in place. You will read a chapter and verse that may make you somewhat uncomfortable (though you won't admit it because it could bring you to question your faith and even God's existence and, after all, isn't that the one unforgivable sin?) and you have a reason to make what the verse says fit into the box that you've already made for God. It's like comparing the Bible to a jigsaw puzzle:

 

You are cruising along with the puzzle and nearing 80% completion (a completely arbitrary number) and then you come across a piece that, based on prior experience with this puzzle, just does not fit... it's too big, the angles are all skewed and the picture on the face of the piece doesn't look to be a resemblance of any part of the whole picture. But, you are determined to finish this puzzle. What to do? You cram the piece anywhere you can feasibly fit it; the corners of the piece become crumpled, there are gaps between the rest of the pieces and the picture on the face of the piece doesn't fit. To correct the problem of the picture, you take a sharpie and you connect the lines from the surrounding pieces. If you stand back and squint hard enough, you can barely even notice the piece that doesn't fit.

 

I really don't doubt that I have read the Bible more than you. For the last several years, I have been pouring over it every spare minute. Do you have any idea how painful it is to watch your faith crumble around you? Why would I allow that to happen if my faith was truth-based? Why would I give up "a peace that passeth all understanding" (for, indeed, it was peaceful) based on my own arrogance? There would be nothing more comforting that the thought and hope in an eternal life in paradise! However, based on everything contained within the scriptures and everything that branches from it, I find it to be an impossibility. Why would I take that jump? Why would I allow myself to doubt, question and then deconvert if it were for no other reason that seeking the truth? Can't you understand that I am on a daily quest for knowledge and for truth?

 

I guess I can understand why you were so skeptical of what I would tell you in high school... I lied to you and mom on numerous occasions to keep from being punished. I lied much in the same way that everyone sitting in every church across America is lied to. Pastors will smugly stand in the pulpit and admonish their flock in the ways of the Bible all the while struggling with verses they have read in study that completely contradict their message. The Bible is not perfect; in fact, it is incredibly flawed. Not in translation or in connotation but in true content. I started to truly search the scriptures as a way of bolstering my faith. It had a negative affect, it decimated my faith.

 

I think your eyes would be opened if you found out how many fundamental evangelical preachers found their way to atheism through the Bible. The only ones who remain in the pulpit are the ones who have no conscience, care little for the truth or are so comfortable in their tenured positions that they fear a career change. For one to seek truth, though, he cannot deny the Bible's errancy.

 

Perhaps now you know why I'm asking you questions. I'm not doing it to rub your nose in my disbelief, I'm asking if there is anything that I have missed in my searches. I am presenting you with the most faith-shattering passages in scripture... the ones that sealed the deal for me. Are you telling me that they are correct and do reconcile with each other but that you are unwilling to help me see?

 

Well, thanks for nothing.

 

MY DAD, 6/20/2007, 1:26 p.m. Finally, a message from you that is slightly more than just another arrogant diatribe! I will write you an answer tonight that may be more to your desires than the previous ones.

 

And that's where it currently stands. Wow... this is a long thread. I don't blame anyone for not reading it. If you do, though, I'd be grateful for any advice. You'd have to know my dad in order to understand my resolve in opening his eyes. He is an overbearing and oppressive force in my life and I want to whack him in the face with his own Bible and show him that he doesn't corner the market on truth.

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I thought that was very interesting Former Follier. And yes I read all of it. You didn't strike me as being arrogant in any of that. I wonder why he feels that you were being arrogant.

 

My Dad is a fundy too. I used to go around and around with him about evolution. At some point I realized that it was only damaging our already strained relationship. So I simply stopped debating with him about it. I was satisfied that I knew the facts and I let go of the idea that I had to prove myself right in his eyes. It is enough for me to know that I have it right. I don't need for him to acknowledge that and I don't need for him to be correct himself.

 

I really feel for you man. My Dad was an over-bearing figure in my life too. He was the thought and emotional police. But then I realized that he simply didn't have that power over me. I am free to think and feel as I wish. And no one and nothing can take that away from me.

 

I hope that you guys come to some peace or amicable agreement. I hope that you don't let this come between you two. My Dad and I have since found some approximation to peace. It is at least a cease fire. Perhaps you guys will find something similar.

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I think your dad is incredibily arrogant. Sorry man. A personnal pet peeve of mine is one someone refers me to a URL without answering the questions for themselves.

 

I commend you for your patience.

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I thought that was very interesting Former Follier. And yes I read all of it. You didn't strike me as being arrogant in any of that. I wonder why he feels that you were being arrogant.

 

My Dad is a fundy too. I used to go around and around with him about evolution. At some point I realized that it was only damaging our already strained relationship. So I simply stopped debating with him about it. I was satisfied that I knew the facts and I let go of the idea that I had to prove myself right in his eyes. It is enough for me to know that I have it right. I don't need for him to acknowledge that and I don't need for him to be correct himself.

 

I really feel for you man. My Dad was an over-bearing figure in my life too. He was the thought and emotional police. But then I realized that he simply didn't have that power over me. I am free to think and feel as I wish. And no one and nothing can take that away from me.

 

I hope that you guys come to some peace or amicable agreement. I hope that you don't let this come between you two. My Dad and I have since found some approximation to peace. It is at least a cease fire. Perhaps you guys will find something similar.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. It took quite a bit out of me to actually tell him everything I was thinking at the time. We've spoken about religion off and on for years and when we spoke last he was left with the impression that I was just an agnostic... sitting the fence. I am now an atheist as I believe that agnosticism is only tenable as a transitional position. I'm of the belief that holding to an agnostic position for a great deal of time either means that you're lazy or that you're disinterested, neither of which I am. I hope I didn't offend anyone with that but I just think that you've got to make your mind up one way or the other at some point.

 

Anyway, my recent messages to him have left no room for doubt. He has to realize that I'm an atheist by now even though I haven't come out and said it.

 

It may sound far-fetched but I want to deconvert my parents much in the same way that they want to try to convert me (back?). I just feel like they have wasted so much of their lives, that they could really learn to love the life they've got instead of looking forward to the promise of a better life. Plus, who couldn't do with a 10% raise and another day off every week?

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It may sound far-fetched but I want to deconvert my parents much in the same way that they want to try to convert me (back?).

I realized with my Dad that I was not to be his teacher. His ego simply would not allow that.

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I think your dad is incredibily arrogant. Sorry man. A personnal pet peeve of mine is one someone refers me to a URL without answering the questions for themselves.

 

I commend you for your patience.

Thanks for the reply. I absolutely agree; being referred to a website for answers is incredibly disrespectful. What? I'm good enough to witness to but not good enough to have my questions answered? He's always been that way though.

 

The parts that really made my skin crawl was when he said that all of my questions, biblical contradictions, etc. were easily refuted by anyone who has read the Bible. What did he fail to do though? He failed to refute any of my points.

 

Using his reasoning, he should believe me if I told him that creating a nuclear warhead is a no-brainer if you only know how to read. Let's see if he could churn one out for me.

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I've been struggling with the decision of posting this on Ex-C or not. In the end, I respect all of you and your advice and find this to be a great resource for information and moral support.

 

A few thoughts:

 

1) Many theists - perhaps most theists - believe because their belief fills an emotional need. While you may be able to get them thinking, any change has to be something that overrides that belief. Some theists will simply say, "I believe on faith", but many prefer to have "rational" reasons. When their rational reasons are challenged, they get scared (because faith is hard for them), and anger is their way of protection.

 

So I wouldn't count on doing anything for your father, and in some sense you challenging him directly is more likely to activate his protection mechanism.

 

2) As for his methods of arguing - the "see the website" - many theists do this because they are either not equipped to debate the real questions or are afraid that that might produce doubt in their minds (ie a "crisis of faith").

 

His point about "world-respected scientists" is an argument to authority, and the point of discussion is whether an argument is good, not who is making the argument.

 

3) Finally, you listed a whole bunch of things. If you want to continue discussing, I suggest picking a single topic and discussing that.

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I read the whole thing. I was glad to see that a fundy was given the truth. His refutations of your points are conspicuous for their absense.

 

I had two opportunities to question hard core fundies. Two of my sisters. On separate occasions. In each case I questioned and cross-questioned to find out on WHAT faith is based. What connection with reality--with the lived human experience--does their faith have?

 

In each case there was no link. No basis in reality. No experience of any kind. No evidence either psychological or spiritual or emotional. They didn't feel anything. They didn't see anything. The evidence was absolutely nil.

 

What they did have was a lifetime of preaching, reading, thinking, talking--all and every single time in favour of their brand of religion. Authority is what their faith is based on. Authority of what?

 

No need to go there.

 

I just don't talk with them anymore.

 

My suggestion would be the same as the others--you've given you dad the best you've got and your best is not good enough; he is not accepting it. Whether or not you let it go at this probably has more to do with your own need to be heard than with any realistic hope that he will ever listen to you.

 

There are so many ways I have wanted to help my parents. Mom so obviously needed professional therapy but she always turned it down. The best I can do is separate myself from people like that and find my own niche in life. I'm glad I don't have to live with them anymore.

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I've been struggling with the decision of posting this on Ex-C or not.

 

In my opinion, it's just fine posting this kind of thing. I've done it. Others have done it. It's a way to get much-needed support. I'm glad you posted it.

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Unfortunately, I don't have anything tangible/helpful to add, but I have to respond anyway to say:

 

1) Your responses are extremely cogent.

 

2) I recognize some of the techniques your father is attempting to use. You have blown him out of the water with sound reasoning and he has nothing to support his position. Notice how he doesn't present any sort of substantial material to really support his position or to refute yours. I've also had apologists (and even fictional characters from urban legends) coronated as scientists, authorities in their fields and then used in an attempt to debunk me, or to attempt to demonstrate that I only give lip service to science to selectively justify my godlessness. Then, when backed into a corner, your arguments are dismissed as "nonsense" with a wave of the hand and you are essentially accused of peddling rubbish, being pedantic, persecuting your godly fundy father (by being derisive, disrespectful, argumentative just for the sake of lecturing him, etc), and being morally bankrupt. Absurd! And this desperate appeal is totally unsupported, of course.

 

The dynamics of your relationship seems to have allowed quite a dialog, despite your father's lack of substance. I don't know whether he'll end up washing his hands of you, as was the case with me (if he does, as you've noted, it would be an overbearing and oppressive force doing so), or whether he'll stick around to be your pit bull for christ until his deathbed. In either case, you've presented yourself extremely well. I wish you the best as the saga unfolds.

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I applaud the courage it took to post that exchange here. I also applaud you for the courage I know it took to have that exchange with your father. I thought your responses were brilliant and, in all honesty, he responded a lot better to them than my dad always did when we had debates about Christianity. We eventually had to agree to disagree and leave it at that because it always became super ugly.

 

One of the arguments that stands out to me the most is where your dad said the inconsistencies in the Bible are "rubbish". Many Christians stand by the "God didn't make mistakes when he wrote the Bible" argument. My dad always used to tell me that if I read the Bible through "spiritual eyes" instead of "logical" ones that I would understand that these are not inconsistencies at all. Well, sorry, my mind and eyes are wide open and I see huge inconsistencies.

 

Former, I don't have much advice to give you. As hard as you're trying you have to know you may never deconvert your parents. Christianity has been a strong presence in their lives for many years and the older people become, the less likely they are to make such a dramatic change. At the very least I hope some day the two of you can agree to disagree and interact with one another as father and son as opposed to Christian and non-christian.

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1) Many theists - perhaps most theists - believe because their belief fills an emotional need.
I would amend that to say that believers believe their belief fills an emotional need. If you question a lot of them enough, they'll say that straight up.
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You'd have to know my dad in order to understand my resolve in opening his eyes. He is an overbearing and oppressive force in my life and I want to whack him in the face with his own Bible and show him that he doesn't corner the market on truth.

 

You're definately doing that. I'm hearing a good round of "THWAP THWAP THWAP!" going here. From what I'm seeing, he's just taking it because he has to. The only thing he can do is make feeble remarks back about you being "arrogant" or closed minded and it's blatently obvious that's not the case. It's all he's got left to sheild himself from you.

 

I doubt he's going to bow his head and say "You're right, I've been a fool for believing this junk." But I can almost guarantee you've got him seriously hot and bothered and agitated because he can't defend himself.

 

My only advice is, if you're having fun with this, keep thwapping away!

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Sounds like you and your father have a lot in common.

 

Well the conversation seems civil enough, but if you guys really want to discuss things then I suggest doing what someone else already mentioned...narrow down the topic of discussion. Both of you have made claims, he said he could defend bible errors...pick one don't just throw a million things at him and ask him to refute it. On the other side you said you can refute whats on the AIG site, let him choose something for you to pick apart.

 

:huh: I don't see why you would want to deconvert them, it's the same thing that your father wants to do to you.

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Thank you all for your encouragement with this. It is really something that I've been struggling with since I first deconverted over seven years ago. Only recently have I been able to talk to him about it; the healing process was quite long for me.

 

In thinking back to the things I endured in my childhood and the way my parents are now, I wonder if they can even see their own inconsistencies. For example: My three-year old daughter was going bonkers at her birthday party a few weeks ago. I decided to pull her away from the party for a quick minute to get her refocused and remind her that even though she was having fun and was surrounded by family she still needed to remember her manners and still needed to listen when spoken to, etc. Nothing big, just normal toddler stuff.

 

The only place I could think of to take her so we could speak without disctraction was my parents' bedroom. I took her by the hand, walked her in and sat her on the bed. I then knelt down and started speaking to her in a soothing, conversational voice reminding her that she could have fun and act silly but that she needed to remember her manners and needed to behave; no more knocking kids over at the kitchen table to get a party favor.

 

My dad barged in right in the middle of our talk and stood at the door with his arms crossed. Noticing that he wasn't going anywhere, I got my daughter down from the bed, gave her a hug and kiss, told her I loved her and to go play and have fun. After she went back to the party, my dad closed the door and started chiding me: "I don't like the way you're bullying her and lording yourself over her... she's a kid, tantrums and misbehavior are to be expected..."

 

I said, "Are you kidding me, dad? If I had acted this way at three years of age you would've pulled my pants down, bent me over your knee and beat the crap out of me!" So evidently his corporal punishment is justified (spare the rod, spoil the child) but my verbal guidance is completely out of line.

 

That's but one example and I only mentioned it because it was so recent. In the topic I started several weeks ago about the "Most Abominable Acts Witnessed at Church" I mentioned a high school teacher at my Christian school who molested young girls. I wasn't privy to that exact information at the time I attended but, thanks to some friends working at a local video store, I had firsthand knowledge of his rental queue and I will say that the school administration would've been displeased. An high school ex-girlfriend was one of his later victims which she confided to me. Of course, I told my dad but nothing came of it. He didn't believe me because I was "in rebellion to him and God" at that time.

 

Several years passed, the teacher was arrested and my dad found out. He ws shocked! He had no idea. After all, the teacher was such a devout and godly man!

 

Anyway... enough of that. I'm not going to let anymore of my personal bitterness seep in here. I'm expecting a reply from my dad either this evening or early in the morning and I will post it to this thread as soon as I get it.

 

Thanks again for the kind words, everyone.

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One of the arguments that stands out to me the most is where your dad said the inconsistencies in the Bible are "rubbish". Many Christians stand by the "God didn't make mistakes when he wrote the Bible" argument. My dad always used to tell me that if I read the Bible through "spiritual eyes" instead of "logical" ones that I would understand that these are not inconsistencies at all. Well, sorry, my mind and eyes are wide open and I see huge inconsistencies.

 

I think this is the primary reason why you will probably never get through to your dad. He is arriving at this from the approach that he is already right and any inconstancy you can show him, he will just be forced to find an answer to. And it's not hard for him to find an answer when all he has to do is pull the holy ghost card (spiritual eyes).

 

As for evolution, if he took a botany or a zoology class at the university, he might finally get the big picture how it all fits together and as such, if he has any honest bone left in his body, be then forced to accept it (that's what happened to me btw). But just arguing against his apologetics won't get you anywhere. He has a layman's understanding and apologetics appeal to layman reasoning better than facts about evolution do. It takes a systematic approach where you start with the very basics and then build up before one can see how it all fits together. At that point, the apologetic case falls apart, but without it, your dad is inside an impenetrable bastion of meme protection.

 

Your dad isn't looking for the truth, he has found the truth. I don't see how you are going to knock him off that self-assured pedestal.

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He didn't believe me because I was "in rebellion to him and God" at that time.

 

Wow, you're dad is really off the deep end with his fundamentalism.

 

Before I deconverted I read a christian book called Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur. This book was about a preacher who was very much like your dad sounds. He was so trapped in his fundamentalism and lording it over his family that his daughter got pregnant and ran away and his wife ended up dying. These events caused him to begin to self reflect and then the rest of the book he spent going on a journey of self examination and examination of his beliefs. In essence, it was a journey from self-righteous fundamentalism to a kinder and more gentle belief system.

 

It wasn't the intention of the author, but it was this book that really got me started questioning my beliefs. Well, I'll take that back, Arthur did intend readers to introspect and put their belief's to the test. He just didn't intend the final outcome, insomuch as that I found that all my beliefs were left wanting.

 

If your dad is a reader, perhaps you can sneak this into the house somehow. If he knows it's from you, he may read it (if he reads it at all) with his shield of distrust up. If he just reads it as if it were a christian book (which it is), then perhaps it will cause him to self reflect. It probably won't deconvert him. At the very least, perhaps it will cause him to adopt a kinder and gentler approach to his beliefs. What makes it highly accessible to a fundy is that it doesn't preach a more liberal version of christianity. It instead just focuses on the more loving and kind aspects of it without getting into doctrine.

 

Arthur is very challenging. He will offer up things I'm sure your dad has never been exposed to in his belief system. Moreover, the book is very easy to read and so entertaining that you can't put it down. I can't say enough about how great this book is even though now I would discount almost every conclusion it makes.

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Sounds like you and your father have a lot in common.

You know, I was sort of thinking this very same thing. :scratch::grin:

 

Seems to me, Former Follier, you really want to prove something to your dad. I'm not saying that's necessarily wrong but maybe you need to change your approach since your dad doesn't seem to respond to talking to himself? Maybe you could try finding liberal xian sites (or xian leaning at least) and sort of lead him down a trail of bread crumbs so to speak? That way it's not so "in your face" like SAB or sites like that? So you hand him something to read, and if he reads it, just basically say "yeah...I found it interesting too" or "I kinda liked that one" (or whatever is appropriate) and just leave it at that. He'll think you're agreeing with him but he's sort of agreeing with you. As time goes on you can try things that are less his POV and more yours. Get it? He'll try doing the same back to you but the same, short and non-committal comments work that direction too. I just found printed material works best (even if you print something from a website...don't give them the URL so you control things though...and shorter is better).

 

For example: Try talking about some archaeological find that relates to the bible from someone like BAR. Interesting but not a direct threat. Then eventually work your way over to the minimalist camp with authors like Devers or Finkelstein who can pretty much obliterate the first six books of the bible with their work (obviously moving away from just the biblical resources of course although BAR is actually decent all things considered unlike Bible and Spade which is a joke). Backing it up with the web page from the official Israeli website that agrees with this position really seems to hurt them for some reason (people don't seem to understand Israel is a secular state like we're supposed to be). Anyhow, you get the point whether you use this particular subject matter or not.

 

mwc

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It may sound far-fetched but I want to deconvert my parents much in the same way that they want to try to convert me (back?). I just feel like they have wasted so much of their lives...

 

 

My wife was recently talking to her sister about much the same thing. Everyone in my wife's family is a fundamentalist Christian of one flavor or another. My wife is an atheist. Her sister said that depression at having wasted her entire life would overwhelm her if Christianity was false. My wife's sister is over 50. My wife is about the same age.

 

If my sons or my daughter came home from college or the military (I have kids both places, and three grandkids) talking to me about Baha'i, or Mormonism, or Christianity, or whatever, I'd politely listen, knowing they are adults now and there really isn't much I can do or even should do to change their minds. However, quite frankly, there would be very little chance of them changing my mind about anything in a few emails or conversations -- especially if I was still fully devoted to a religion, and had been for decades of my life. After spending roughly two of those decades raising the kids, providing for them, loving them... well, it just doesn't usually work out where the parents hand over the lead to their kids. Parents let their kids go, if they're smart. But, giving them the reigns to the parent's lives or ideas? It just doesn't happen very often. And when it does happen, it takes quite a few years. Sheesh, my parents are middle 70s, and they still see me and my opinions as those of a kid.

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Wow, you're dad is really off the deep end with his fundamentalism.

 

 

To me, FF's father sounds quite a bit like me before I de-converted. My wife's father is considerably worse than FF's dad.

 

FF's dad may eventually de-convert, but I'd be willing to guess it will only be in his time and only if he decides it's his idea.

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I think you got the best response from your dad to your last e-mail, because it came across as heartfelt. I think your Dad's religion is in his heart rather than his head.

 

In terms of your daughter - I imagine he is projecting his own discipline of you onto his observations of your relationship with your daughter. Maybe once removed from the 'responsibility of raising a child up in the way he/she should go' your dad can see that his way of disciplining you as a child was too hash and he fears/assumes you will be parenting his precious grand daughter in the same way?

 

I remember seeing a video seminar of James Dobson talking about grandparents who 'might have been great disciplinarians of their own children ... going soft over grandchildren'. His comments grew a lot of laughter indicating recognition from the fundy audience. It was as if this was how grandparents were 'expected to be'.

 

I would give up trying to deconvert your Dad, although I think you did right to offer a response to him sending you the initial post.

 

My son first 'challenged' my christian beliefs when he was 14yrs old. He did it in a very gentle, loving and respectful way - explaining to me how some of the tenents of my religion made him 'feel'. I could have no argument with him. He didn't ever set out to deconvert me - just to have his beliefs respected as he continued to respect mine.

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MY DAD, 6/19/2007, 8:34 p.m. I would be more than willing to have a conversation with you if that was what you truly wanted to have. But you don't want to have a conversation. You want to lecture me, and I won't allow that. I have been a Christian for much longer than you have been alive, and I know very well what (and Who) I believe in. All your alleged Biblical errors and inconsistencies are rubbish, and easily refuted by any person familiar with the Scriptures. You should be able to discern those errors yourself with the education you've had and with the preaching you've been exposed to. But I guess you have a strong compelling interest in disproving Scripture. Because if the Bible means nothing, then you won't have to answer to God for the way you've chosen to live your life. I can't do anything more for you than pray for you, and you can count on me and Mom continuing to do that. I hope God gets your attention. And sometimes when God gets your attention it can be very costly and very painful; not only to you, but to those you hold dear. But you may as well stop badgering me to debate you about a bunch of nonsensical challenges, because I won't do it.

In a way this sort of reminds me of when I was a fundamentalist I was trying to convince my dad of the truth of the Bible and his responses in opposition to me were not well reasoned, and sounded illogical to me. Now that I have de-converted, I am far more like my father in how I view the world philosophically, and we share the same level of cynicism towards religion. The difference between my father and me is that I have a far more formidable arsenal of knowledge and vocabulary with which to articulate and defend my ideas. He didn’t then, nor does to this day, even though emotionally he felt the same way I do now.

 

In other words, it’s possible that even though his arguments defending his beliefs may sound poor and ill-reasoned to you (and me), it’s not something that’s important for him to do to fit his needs, just as my father didn’t put a lot of emphasis on defending his feelings with reason.

 

The thing I wanted to quote from above that I see as perhaps what might be a real issue beneath all the surface differences is a subtle judgment and disapproval you might be hearing in how he says things. I bolded above what stood out to me. Is he using God as a mask to hide his feelings of disappointment behind? Is that what you’re hearing and what lies behind all of this for both of you? Your anger is not at his belief in God, but how he hides behind it in his expressions of disappointments with you? If you get rid of the God factor, you can then get to him and and deal with his feelings? "I hope God get's your attention", translates, "I disapprove and am invoking God's name from above to underscore what I want to say to you."

 

I don’t mean to presume anything and I apologize if I'm prodding to closely, but like I said it really leapt out and struck me in the face as perhaps the real issue behind the debate.

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You aren't prying or prodding, you hit the nail on the head. He was always expressed his disapproval of my decisions in a passive aggressive way, cloaked behind his piety. That is why I'm confronting him now. I've healed enough to try to show him that his spiritual worldview notonly influences his desion-making poorly but all of his relationships as well. By attributing everything good to God and everything evil to Satan, he is not living his life but biding his time... the only time he will ever get. His life is completely without substance. I'm trying to show him that it can be substantial if he only opens his eyes and his mind.

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By the way, here is the update on this thread...

 

ME, 6/21/2007, 10:09 a.m. I was disappointed that I didn't get a reply last night.

 

MY DAD, 6/21/2007, 10:40 a.m. I'm sorry, I was too busy last night to get to it. I had some dinner, then got ready for prayer meeting at 7:00, got home at about 8:30, then had to check out my Plymouth's battery, found it to be bad, then had to get a new one at AutoZone, got back at about 9:30, talked with Mom for awhile, then went to bed. This afternoon & tonight promise to be just about as busy! But don't worry, I will answer you when I get the time!

 

ME, 6/21/2007, 11:10 a.m. It's okay. I understand that unexpected things happen. Like I said, I was disappointed not angry. I was really hoping to get some answers from your perspective because all of these things have been bothering me for years and years. It may be easy to dismiss them as my desire to justify my "sinful lifestyle" or something but it's truly not. If I saw there to be evidence to the end that human's have a soul that continues after physical death, that spiritual realms exist and that the Bible holds the key to spiritual security I would be in a much different position. As I have seen things on my own, I don't see that to be the case.

 

I have been trying to ask some of the same questions to Amanda's and my friend Kiley Garrison and his wife Michelle. They are Christians and, as a matter of fact, he's a youth minister at Second Church of Christ. I do discount what he says, though, because he's not a fundamentalist. He picks and chooses his beliefs to suit his own comfort and is not nearly as dogmatic in his beliefs. To me, that is wishy-washy. If I truly believe something, I'm going to take it in its entirety not just the parts that don't impinge on my own personal likes.

 

Regardless of what you think, I do have a great deal of respect for you. I do not agree with much of your doctrinal beliefs and even many of your morals but I do respect you for living what you believe. You have always been very consistent in your views and beliefs. I want to see, though, if they are your views and beliefs or what have been impressed on you by others. It takes a lot of work to delve into a subject like Christianity. You can't just sit down for an evening, crack open your Bible and expect to be a scholar. There's much more to it than that.

 

When I was at FBC (First Baptist Church), I was a blind follower; I never cracked a Bible unless I absolutely had to. You saw my Bibles in high school... seven years old and still had all of the gold edging on the pages. That is unacceptable for any professing believer. Either you know what you believe or you don't and if you are simply relying on what others have told you, you don't know. There are a myriad people out there that claim UFO sightings and claim to have been visited by extraterrestrial life. If I were to believe them simply based on their assertions, I would be an irrational individual (among other things). The same is true of Christians who park themselves in a pew for a couple hours every Sunday and listen but don't study. Preachers are not the be-all and end-all of wisdom. They make mistakes quite often and, in my experience, gloss over things that would raise some rather hairy questions. Either they are unaware by not having spent enough time in the Word or are guilty of lying to their flock by omission.

 

We can also talk about these things in person. I have tried to speak with (my old youth pastor) about these things too but to no avail. He regards my questions in much the same way as you did initially... he thought I was trying to ridicule his faith (an emotional response when your emotion-based belief system is perceived as being attacked). I have been speaking to him under the protection of anonymity so I would appreciate it if you didn't disclose my identity. I want him to know that I am someone who was sincere in my beliefs (as they were presented to me) and that I was very active (missions trips, choir and band, witnessing, puppet ministry, youth group, etc.). He said much the same thing you did initially, that I stopped believing (or never believed) as a way of justifying a wicked lifestyle. That is not the case. I have a very strong code of ethics and try to live as scrupulous a life as possible. I view ethics and scruples as a social construct just like religion and language, all three equally as primitive. Morals, however, are ethics with the belief in a supernatural source imposed on them. For that reason, I don't consider myself to be "moral" per se because morality relies on a belief in a "giver" of the moral code. Just as you weren't born in Pakistan, raised a Hindu and speaking their native tongue, so to you don't adhere to their moral code. Why not? I posit that they are equally as sincere and devout in their beliefs as you.

 

The point is, everyone claims to have "the Truth". Who is to say that one truth is better than any other or that a "Truth" even exists. Like I mentioned in an earlier email, God must want to save all humans from the original sin due to his purported omni-benevolence. If that's the case, couldn't he have made salvation accessible to skeptics? Why must salvation be a work of faith and not thought? The very idea of salvation as an "unmerited gift" doesn't make sense either. In order to receive this "gift" one must admit that he is a sinner and that he has wronged God, must acknowledge that God sent himself in human form to die as an atonement for those sins and must accept said "gift." Hopefully you can see where I was going with that... if I do anything in order to receive a gift, it loses it's status as a gift; it becomes a simple quid pro quo transaction.

 

I have so many more things that just don't make sense and I hope that you are finally starting to see how painful this is for me. A belief in a heaven would be so comforting but I refuse to lie to myself and disregard the obvious for the purpose of clinging to a hope.

 

If you need more to go on, just ask but I think you've already got plenty.

 

Now, I know that many of you may be thinking that I may be overdoing it with him by replying to his paragraph emails with novellas but I am trying to win over his trust and make him believe that I am still questioning. That is not the case but I have tried to reach out to his reasonably in other ways and each time to no avail. This time I believe I may have a way of showing him his own irrationality in a mirror... kind of like showing a fairytale princess that her reflection is that of an ogre. I know my dad and the only way he will even entertain my questions is if he feels as though I'm seeking his truth and not being confrontational. We'll see how it goes. I will definitely keep everyone posted.

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